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Ble de la Sainte Barbe / Saint Barb's Wheat

Posted on December 20, 2008 at 2:40 PM

December 4th, the day of Saint Barbara or Barb, is the day when Christmas preparations start in Provence. On that day wheat is set into three saucers on cotton that is to be kept humidified. During the 20 day period leading up to Christmas, the wheat germinates and the green foliage is then used to decorate the manger or the dinner table. The number three is recurring in many Christmas traditions in Provence as it is the number of the Holy Trinity.

This tradition has been traced back to Roman and Greek Antiquity and symbolises the upcoming harvest as well as prosperity for the New Year.
"Blé de la Sainte Barbe bien germé, est symbole de prospérité pour la prochaine année" says the saying, "Saint Barbara's Wheat well germinated is the symbol of prosperity for the New Year".
Often, lentils are substituted as they are easier to find in stores.

Categories: Provence, Christmas, France